To paraphrase Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio broadcaster Matt Underwood, we waited two hours for that?
After a rain delay struck for more than two hours in the top of the eleventh inning, Minnesota loaded the bases in the bottom half and scored a walk-off victory on an error at home plate by Yan Gomes as the Twins defeated the Cleveland Indians in extras, 5-4.
The wait was hardly worth it for the Indians, who had their inning paused with two outs in the top of the eleventh by the expected thunderstorms that hit the Minneapolis region. Minnesota reliever Trevor May made easy work of Gomes after the delay with a one-pitch fly out to right before the Twins attacked rookie right-hander Joe Colon in the bottom half.
Colon retired Eduardo Nunez on a grounder before walking Joe Mauer. Miguel Sano doubled to right center, moving Mauer to third. Brian Dozier was intentionally walked to set up a double play possibility or at worst, a force play at the plate. Instead, Max Kepler grounded back to the mound. The ball was hit to Colon’s right and he swung his glove around and deflected the ball. He recovered it and fired to Gomes at the plate. The throw was in time and close enough to be caught, but it went off of Gomes’ glove, allowing Mauer to score the winning run.
“It looked to me like Gomer didn’t look it into the glove,” said Indians manager Terry Francona after the tough loss. “I didn’t think we had a play at first, and instead of taking an out like a first baseman, just kind of short-armed it a little bit.”
The Indians (53-37) were dealt yet another tough loss at Target Field this season. It was the third time there this year that Cleveland has lost in walk-off fashion to the Twins. Despite the tough defeat, they maintained their six and a half game lead over the second place Detroit Tigers, who fell to the third place Kansas City Royals. The Chicago White Sox dropped their third in a row and are a full game behind the Royals, who are seven in back of Cleveland.
The win by Minnesota (33-57) was their sixth walk-off of the season and first since June 12. They evened their season record to 4-4 in extra inning contests this season and improved to 9-16 in one-run games.
Cleveland took the early lead as they loaded the bases against Minnesota starter Tyler Duffey, who had all but shut down the Indians in his first three career starts against them. Carlos Santana singled to center and moved to second on a walk by Jason Kipnis. After a lineout from Francisco Lindor, Mike Napoli drew a walk to load the bases. Captain Clutch, Jose Ramirez, lifted a fly to center deep enough to score Santana to give the Tribe a 1-0 lead.
Indians starter Trevor Bauer worked around a base runner in each of the first two innings before the Twins got to him in the bottom of the third. Byron Buxton drew a leadoff walk and moved to third on a single by the All-Star Nunez. A walk by Mauer loaded the bases before Bauer struck out Sano looking. Just one ball hit at the right infielder away from getting out of it, Bauer instead gave up a sacrifice fly to Dozier to tie the game.
The Twins threatened again in the fifth, but did not score. Kennys Vargas singled and moved to third on a double to left by Eddie Rosario. Bauer buckled down, striking out Juan Centeno before Buxton grounded to Kipnis. The Tribe’s second baseman came to the plate and nailed Vargas sliding for the second out. After Buxton stole second, Nunez grounded out to Santana at first to end a major threat.
The Indians responded in the next half inning to take the lead. Juan Uribe led with a single and Tyler Naquin followed with a bloop to right. A sacrifice from catcher Chris Gimenez moved both runners up 90 feet and Santana slapped a single under the glove of a diving Mauer at first to drive in both runners and give Cleveland a 3-1 lead. Duffey struck out Kipnis and Lindor to end the inning.
Cleveland stranded Napoli at third with one out in the sixth, which would loom large later in the game. Napoli walked on four straight to start the inning, moved to second on a wild pitch, and advanced to third on a ground out to second by Ramirez. Lonnie Chisenhall flied to shallow center on the first pitch of his at bat before Uribe grounded out to short on a fantastic play by Nunez for the third out.
Minnesota made it a 3-2 game in the bottom of the sixth on back-to-back two-out hits. Rosario singled to left and scored from first on a double to left by Centeno. Cleveland got the run back in the next inning after a leadoff double from Naquin. Gimenez grounded to third, ending the night for Duffey, who was relieved by Taylor Rogers. He allowed a single to right by Santana and a Kipnis single to center drove in Naquin to make it 4-2.
The Twins continued to challenge the Indians and struck against Bauer again in the bottom of the seventh after the Indians starter returned to the mound with more than 100 pitches made on the night. Nunez reached on an infield single off of the glove of Santana before a five-pitch walk by Mauer ended Bauer’s night. Jeff Manship relieved and got Sano to ground into a fielder’s choice, but an error at first by Santana allowed Nunez to score while no runners were retired. Dozier followed with an RBI-single to center to tie the game and Manship handed the ball to reliever Dan Otero, who got a pair of outs before intentionally walking Rosario to face pinch-hitter Eduardo Escobar. With the bases loaded, Escobar struck out swinging in a quick four-pitch battle, dropping Otero’s ERA for the season to 1.24.
The Indians got a runner on base in the eighth and got another over to second in the tenth, but could not score. Bryan Shaw worked two innings, allowing a two-out double to Kepler in the bottom of the ninth. Cody Allen worked a perfect tenth, getting a pair of strikeouts.
Bauer may have stayed on one inning too long after a handful of challenging innings throughout the night. He worked six-plus innings on the night and was charged with four runs (three earned) on seven hits. He walked three and struck out six in the no-decision.
The quality start left Bauer’s career win total against the Twins at just one after nine career starts.
Duffey also left with a no-decision after his teammates got him off of the hook for the four runs he allowed over six and one-third innings on Saturday night. He gave up six hits, walked three, and struck out two on 97 pitches (62 strikes).
Duffey entered the day with two wins against the Indians in three career starts. He had allowed just two runs over 19 1/3 innings (0.93 ERA).
SANTANA COOKS UP A BAKER’S DOZEN
Santana extended his hitting streak to 13 straight games to lead off the game, driving a single to center to start the Indians’ first scoring opportunity of the game.
The streak is a career high.
Sano made a pair of errors in the game for the Twins. He dropped a routine pop up in foul territory in the seventh, but the Indians did not capitalize on the extra out. He could not field a shot from Rajai Davis the next inning. He now has seven errors in his last eight games.
BIG LEAGUE DEBUT
New utility man Erik Gonzalez made his Major League debut in the eighth inning with the score tied at four. He pinch-hit for Naquin and struck out swinging. He took over in right field for Chisenhall and Davis, who had pinch-hit for Chisenhall, remained in the game in center field in Naquin’s spot.
Sunday’s series finale will pit Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin (9-2, 3.51 ERA) against Minnesota’s Kyle Gibson (2-5, 5.02). Tomlin is 3-4 in his career against the Twins with a 5.81 ERA. Gibson is 1-1 this season and 2-2 in his career, but boasts a career 5.77 ERA. This season alone, he has allowed six runs on eleven hits and walked four in eight and two-thirds innings of work.
First pitch from Target Field is scheduled for 2:10 PM ET.
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images